Monthly Archives: July 2011

Parallels

There is something powerful about the idea of parallel worlds; the notion that there is a universe for every potential outcome. For every particle that either decays or stays, for every time you turn left or right, for every sun that goes nova or expands; there is a Universe. Every choice you made or didn’t make, there is a you living out the consequences of that particular decision (or non-decision).

The very idea of it, the basic fundamental underlying principle of it, is an enticing one. There are an infinite  number of worlds out there, an infinite number of Earths spinning around an infinite number of Suns and there are some that are beyond your understanding. They move to a different rhythm than our own universe. They are bound by rules we couldn’t understand. Their physics is not our own.

But, ignoring the grandiosity of those Worlds, the ones that kowtow to another universal constant than our own, there are the Worlds that differ from ours in mere mundanity. The ones where you altered your life with a small decision and the resulting consequences are completely beyond your ken, because they never happened, at least, not in this World.

Every decision you make, every choice you take; they split into a thousand different possibilities. What you do, what you say, what you hear and then act upon; they branch out into an array of consequence, spreading beyond your capability to understand. And all of these outcomes exist in their own pocket Universes. The Multiverse is a spider’s web of What If that exists in the tangible.

And that is perhaps what is most compelling for me; the fantastic buried in the mundane.

Dylan Charles

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Superstitious

I consider myself a skeptic. I don’t believe in things that I can’t verify through either my own experience or through the scientific research of people who get paid for that kind of thing. If I can’t touch it, taste it, smell it or see it, or if it hasn’t been verified in a lab somewhere, then it doesn’t exist.

That being said, I’m still bound up in superstition. I believe it’s possible to jinx an event. I believe certain numbers are just, inherently, better than others (three, six and nine are a good combination). I believe silver is a “good” metal. And places where bad things have happened feel…haunted to me.

Rationally, that whole preceding paragraph feels incredibly silly. I know absolutely none of that is true. There’s nothing about a number that makes it quantifiably better or worse than another number. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I put in nine packets of sugar into my coffee, in three groups of three, specifically because three is a good number. I feel slightly better knowing that my coffee has been sweetened three by three.

The whole thing reeks of a touch of the obsessive compulsive or the remnants of those things I believed as a kid. As I got older, I stripped away each and every of those beliefs in the metaphysical and the supernatural. The afterlife, psychic ability, ghosts, hauntings; I drove them down to their knees with reason and killed them one by one.

But belief dies hard and in tiny little ways, they still exist. My subconscious is haunted by ghosts and demons, created by my own desire to believe that there is magic in this world, even if I know there isn’t.

So…even though I know it’s silly, I’ll hold onto those fragments, because three is a good number (but not as good as six) and silver can keep the monsters at bay and there are places where the bad things happened that are truly haunted.

Dylan Charles

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Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Neither Emily nor I have been to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and since we had the day off together, we decided to check it out.

This sounds like a simple thing on the surface: Emily and Dylan head off to the museum together and enjoy fine arts. In reality, we spent an embarrassing amount of time wandering around Boston’s Back Bay looking like especially bewildered tourists, even with the aid of Emily’s tricorder-ish phone.

But! We actually did make it to the museum, about five minutes before we would have succumbed to heat stroke. And it was worth it, if only because I got to see this painting:

It’s a girl with a dress-wearing cat.

That’s not to say there weren’t other amazing things there. It’s just…really hard to top a classical painting of a cat wearing a dress. We also saw the usual assortment of Egyptian relics, 18th century American furniture and busts of some truly grumpy Romans.

One area that the Museum of Fine Arts really excels in their presentation. They did their best to minimize the boundaries between the viewer and the art. When we went to look at the various stone panels with the Egyptian hieroglyphs, they had mounted them inside a dimly lit corridor, so that we felt like we were actually in a tomb, looking at millennial-old artifacts.

The same was true of the early American furniture, which was arranged in rooms like they would have been in the 18th and 19th centuries. There was only a shin-high guardrail to keep people from walking into the rooms, which didn’t obstruct our view at all. It was possible, with a little bit of effort, to imagine that you were looking into someone’s dining room.

They’re also hosting an exhibition of Chihuly‘s art right now, and it’s some truly impressive stuff. Take a gander at terrible iPod photographs:

This picture might be upside-down.

It’s big.

He does amazing things with glass, stuff that looks other-worldly and alien. It’s glass at its most organic and I highly recommend checking it out in person if you ever get the chance, since the pictures don’t really do it justice.

We didn’t check out all of the museum; to do so would take a whole day and some change. We left a lot of it for another time and I’m glad we’ll be in Boston long enough to do so.

Dylan Charles

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Confronting Confrontation Confrontationally

I’ve never been a very confrontational person. I prefer sulking and passive-aggressive snarking to out and out telling someone off. Any attempt to “get up in someone’s grill” usually leads to a mild sputtering and a red face on my part. Even just thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

It took me a long time before I was comfortable with talking to strangers on the phone or making small talk with strangers on the bus. Confrontation is ten steps above that and makes me break out into a rash.

But lately, I’ve been able to actually deal with issues that require slightly more backbone. For example, after repeatedly being woken up by our upstairs neighbor’s partying, I marched upstairs at 3am and snippily told them that they were making it hard for me to sleep and marched back downstairs. And they stopped making noise! After I said something! That still astonishes me.

And it doesn’t sound like much, but I consider it a major skirmish and one that I won no less!

And the other day, Emily and I were cornered by a scam artist who I’ve seen downtown before peddling different sob stories. Instead of doing my usual, “Oh…no…sorry….no…change” mumbling as I walked away, I called her out and we walked away.

A year or so ago, I never would have done that. I’m finally starting to stand up to situations that I otherwise would have crept away from or ignored hoping they would go away.

I think, in some small ways, I’m turning into a grown-up. Maybe.

Dylan Charles

Buy my book or send your friends there.

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Google Nonplussed

I’ve been using Google Plus for the last few days. For people who aren’t aware, Google Plus is Google’s attempt to unseat Facebook with their own social networking system. It’s still in Beta testing, but it’s not too hard to get an invitation nowadays. You should have at least one friend who’s sitting on a couple of invites.

So far my experiences with Google Plus have been positive. For a beta, it’s very polished and I haven’t bumped into any bugs. It is missing one or two feautures that I’d like to see in the finished product. I would like to be able to condense the people who have multiple email addresses into one contact. Right now, I have circles with one person being represented by three separate emails. But I love the Circles and I love just dragging and dropping people to different places.

I haven’t played with the Spark feature much (plug in a keyword and Google will find you a wide variety of videos and articles about that item to peruse) and I probably won’t use it that much.

I also really dig the transparency behind the privacy options on Google Plus. While I’m still not 100% how private my data is on Facebook, I know exactly how private each aspect of my Google Plus profile is. And that kind of reassurance is great to have.

The one thing I like the most, though, is how simplified it is. It doesn’t have all of the bullshit that currently clutters up Facebook. There are no farms or vampire wars or mobsters. There aren’t hugs and pokes and wall graffitis. It’s very spare and I hope to God it stays that way. Facebook is so overburdened with third party apps that it looks like a three-year-old vomited partially digested skittles all over my news feed.

The main problem I forsee is that not all of my friends will migrate to Plus and I don’t blame them. I spent years and years building up my network on Facebook and, honestly, Google Plus hasn’t offered enough for me to ditch all of that quite yet. At the very least, I’ll keep a foot in both worlds when Plus does go live.

Dylan Charles

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Ten Percent

Last week, my computer was out of commission for about four days. It wasn’t a very long time and I was able to access everything I needed using either Emily’s computer (Thanks El!) or my iPod. So there was no real first world hardship involved and I was able to do pretty much everything that I was able to do before my computer decided to lose its marbles.

That didn’t change the fact that I felt a lot better after I had gotten my computer back. It’s a mix of a wide variety of different emotions. Partly it’s just a comfort thing. I like to write in the same spot, on the same surface, using the same interface. It’s just a matter of comfort and familiarity.

There’s also the matter that my computer is, in subtle and overt ways, thoroughly integrated into my life. Computer’s aren’t like, say, televisions or iPods or other pieces of technology. We talk to our friends through them. We bank through them. We buy through them. We look up facts through them. We maintain a large part of our lives through this one piece of tech. And when mine went haywire I felt…diminished.

It’s not the easiest feeling to explain, but I felt like I do before I have my morning coffee or when I don’t get enough sleep and all the cylinders aren’t firing. It was only a feeling I noticed after I got my computer back and I was relieved and happy and felt back in control of things again.

Which is a disturbing idea to me, that I could become so dependent on something that could be eradicated by a spilled sweet iced tea. I wish I didn’t need it for so much (writing, publishing, banking), just so I could rely on it less. And now, more than ever, I’m starting to rely on it more. It’s actually earned me money (hey, you should buy my book). And at some point, I’d like to completely earn a living off of it.

So, for better or for worse, I’m tied to this extremely fragile, not so durable, time wasting box.

Dylan Charles

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